Huish Park fans, puzzled by the disappearance of new right-back Daniel Alfei, and who have been asking “What’s it all about, Alfei?” had the answer in the past week – he’s out for the season after an anterior cruciate ligament injury.
The 25-year-old will not play again this season but hopes to be back to start the second year of his Yeovil Town contract.
“It’s a big blow”, said manager Darren Way, who gave Alfei the No.2 shirt and introduced him in that ill-fated season opener with Luton Town which Yeovil lost 8-2.
He played the full 90 minutes but his only other League Two start was not until September 23. He was injured and substituted during the match with Port Vale but no spectators realised at the time the extent of the injury.
Said Way: “We made sure he was operated on right away by a top specialist – the one who operated on me when I had my serious car accident years ago.
“Dan came through it well and will begin rehabilitation in the hope that he can resume his career next season”.
There were expectations that Alfei would be an ideal replacement for Liam Shephard, who moved on to bigger things after being virtually ever-present in the right-back role last season.
“We knew all about Dan,” says Way. “He had been with Swansea for some time, and although he had gone into non League football in Wales, we had high hopes for him. It’s a pity home fans didn’t see more of him.
“Dan didn’t teach the Huish Park faithful much, but at least some of us learned how to spell the Welsh club he played for last term – Aberystwyth!”
For Way, it is a serious loss as he attempts to halt Yeovil’s slide down the table, worsened last weekend when, in his word, they were “bullied into a 2-0 defeat at Newport County”, a team including three Yeovil stars of last season.
“It has left me a man short in the squad,” says the manager, “and there is not much I can do about it until the January transfer window opens.
“I could bring in a non-registered player if the right one was available, but most lads who were not on contracts have now been fixed up.”
There seems no immediate chance of Yeovil’s Academy helping to fill the breach. There are encouraging signs coming from Paul Wilson’s youngsters, who had a 1-0 victory at Bishop Sutton in midweek, but they are far too young to step into League Two football.
That also includes Joe Tomlinson, who was taken to Colchester by Way as a substitute for the last game last season. He continues to show promise but missed the Bishop Sutton game through suspension after being sent off in a match at Exeter. Way says that he has a great working relationship with Wilson, the former Yeovil striker who left for Scunthorpe when his Huish Park playing days ended, and who has since spent 12 years in a coaching role with Doncaster Rovers. Both know that time is needed to bring promising players through.